When Popstars Act (Eek)

July 16, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

On Tuesday we watched Girls Aloud’s resident blonde Sarah Harding dip her toe into the pool of dramatics in BBC2’s credit crunch drama Freefall.

It had us here at OTB scratching our heads for other popstars who had taken a theatrical turn.

Some performances were vomit-inducing, others invited critical acclaim. How to sort the wheat from the chaff in our shortlist of nominees?

Marks will be given out of five for the following criteria:

Necessity of taking part – how down in the dumps the popstar’s career is prior to participating is a good indicator of how desperate, ie., dire the performance will be

Time not allowed on screen – How much of the film/programme the popstar/rapper/Geri doesn’t appear in. Can also be defined as “Director’s reluctance quota?

Cringe-ability – directly proportional to acting skill exhibited, ergo 1=Madonna, 5=Jack White

A highly sophisticated mathematical process produces a final score, the OTB-patented Uncredibility FactorTM.

Scores here run like golf – the lower the better. The least uncredible takes the number one spot. Without further ado, we present a run down of the finest and not-so-finest popstar thesp performances in history.


The world has not been kind to the lady once known as Ginger Spice. A string of sub-par records and failed relationships as well as constant tabloid ridicule must be taking its toll. How she bagged this blink-and-you’ve-hopefully-missed-her part is anyone’s guess.

Watch Kim Cattrall’s face in the clip. That’s not acting, it’s sheer horror at having to share screen time with a non-actor.

Necessity of taking part: 5
Time not allowed on screen: 5
Cringe rating: 5

Uncredibility Factor: 15/15

Honestly, the most painfully embarrassing thing you’ve ever seen. So painful in fact, that it’s impossible to feel any pity.


The bisexual one from roughish-round-the-edges and imaginatively-named boyband Blue made his screen debut in this ITV1 drama with funnies Plus One. Happily, in the programme he plays a caricature of himself.

At one point he looks positively Shakespearean, using Blue’s 2001 #4 hit All Rise as a torture device. Hmm. Distancing himself from his past… interesting.

Unfortunately due to YouTube’s donkey rules we were unable to get any footage of Mr. Fromblue “acting? for your perusal. Worry not however, you’re not missing much.

Necessity of taking part: 4 – he was probably afraid we would forget who he is.
Time not allowed on screen: 3
Cringe rating: 3 – we don’t really care enough about him for him to make us cringe.

Uncredibility Factor: 10/15


Who didn’t dread this one?

Jessica “is this Tuna chicken?? Simpson plays Daisy Duke in 2005’s Dukes of Hazzard, a movie loosely based on your Dad’s favourite programme from the 80s.

In theory, Simpson should be quite skilled at acting. There’s so little going on upstairs that assuming an assigned role should be child’s play.

She should be good for the same kind of reason 30 Rock’s Kenneth has a good poker face – “You can’t read his thoughts because he doesn’t have any?.

In the clip we have selected you can almost hear the director willing Jessica “don’t look in the camera! Don’t look in the camera!?

Necessity of taking part: 3 – to launch a movie career.
Time not allowed on screen: 3
Cringe rating: 4

Uncredibility Factor: 10/15


What Beyonce seems to suffer from is a case of Madonna syndrome, the condition by which the subject is in possession of too much ego to pull off a convincing performance.

The clip is taken from Goldmember, B’s first foray into the world of celluloid. She more than makes up for her lack of dialogue in the scene by firing off some dirty looks.

Necessity of taking part: 3 – again, to launch an acting career.
Time not allowed on screen: 2
Cringe rating: 4

Uncredibility Factor: 9/15

But who cares when you got jelly?


“Yo, superstar… pass the soap?

Remember these ones? Ex-Fugee Wyclef inadvertently gets himself hitched to – now how do you put this nicely – a hygienically challenged country girl and suffers the consequences.

While it isn’t Oscar-worthy or anything – Jean doesn’t even open his gold-toothed mouth – it’s a good’un.

Necessity of taking part: 1
Time not allowed on screen: 3
Cringe rating: 3 – but that’s more the nature of the advert than his thespian prowess.

Uncredibility Factor: 7/15


In this vintage episode of Friends Mr. Isaak plays Phoebe’s object of affection Rob Donnen. He’s so natural in the part he doesn’t appear to be “acting? at all. He’s magnetic.

Other parts Isaak has played include Uncle Bob in That Thing You Do, a SWAT Commander in Silence of the Lambs, and most recently Les Price in The Informers.

We could lie and say that we haven’t left a YouTube clip because the sexual energy it would let off is just too strong, and it would be irresponsible.

Truly the quality of the available videos is too low.

Necessity of taking part: 1
Time not allowed on screen: 4
Cringe rating: 1

Uncredibility Factor: 6/15


Everyone’s favourite Canadian singer-songwriter who didn’t appear on the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack cut her teeth on the acting game appearing in Kevin Smith’s 1999 flick Dogma

…whisper it – as God.

She doesn’t speak a word as God, something about her voice being deemed too strong. But she’s totally convincing as the universal life force, donning some fabulous clobber.

Since Dogma she has appeared in Sex and the City, Nip/Tuck and Weeds. Not bad.

Necessity of taking part: 1
Time not allowed on screen: 4
Cringe rating: 1

Uncredibility Factor: 6/15


Is there anything Bon Jovi can’t do? He’s mastered the music world, the movie world, marriage… He’s been married – to the same woman – for about 100 years.

Back in 2002 he made an appearance as a plumber in Ally McBeal. He fixed Ally’s sink.

Again we couldn’t get a decent clip, though we believe we’re doing you a service in not supplying one. It’s safer to leave Calista Flockhart back where she belongs in the early-noughties and in fond memories.

Admit it. Once you loved that mad-cap gal Ally.

Necessity of taking part: 1 – JBJ’s pretty solid. When he pops up in these things it’s more a nice surprise than “remember me? Remember me?! I’m still here!!!?
Time not allowed on screen: 3
Cringe rating: 1

Uncredibility Factor: 5/15


A collective sigh resounded throughout the Hollywood media after it surfaced that Slim Shady would be doing a movie.

Many critics however left the movie theatres pleasantly surprised as Eminem put in a credible performance as B-Rabbit in Curtis Hanson’s 2002 film 8 Mile.

Again, no clip, but this screen grab should give you a good idea of Slim’s acting style. See how he looks all brooding with his character’s deep-seated anger.

Admittedly, playing the part couldn’t have been that much of a stretch. Indeed, when we asked him about playing B-Rabbit, he replied “I don’t know, that’s just the way I am?.

Necessity of taking part: 2
Time not allowed on screen: 1
Cringe rating: 2

Uncredibility Factor: 5/15


Darling Billie was always going to take the number one spot.

After spending a few years out of the limelight Billie returned to our screens, nabbing what must have been one of the most coveted parts on television at the time, as the assistant of the all-new Doctor Who.

Her performance was a little sketchy to begin with, though she never ceased to be charming. Thousands of Who fans wept as Billie’s Rose Tyler was sucked into a parallel universe in the final episode of Series 2, and she was forever separated from the Doctor.

Necessity of taking part: 2 – remember all we knew of Billie pre-Who was “Because we want to! Because we want to!? and marrying Chris Evans.
Amount of “acting? allowed: 1
Cringe rating: 1

Uncredibility Factor: 4/15

Leonie Mercedes